FY22 Appropriations Update: House Appropriators Provide Increases for NSF, NIST, and NASA

In our continuing series following the progress of the Fiscal Year 2022 (FY22) budget, we turn to the House of Representatives. The House Appropriations Committee has begun its work on their budget bills and, on Monday, the Commerce, Justice, Science (CJS) Appropriations Subcommittee approved their bill, which contains the budgets for NSF, NIST, and NASA. That bill then moved before the full Appropriations Committee and was approved yesterday. In short, the amounts for NSF are good but not as good as either the President’s request or the NSF for the Future Act (NSFFF).

Under the House’s plan, NSF would receive $9.63 billion, which is a $1.14 billion increase (+13.4 percent) over the FY21 number ($8.49 billion). While that would normally be great news, keep in mind the Biden Administration’s budget plan provided $10.2 billion for NSF and NSF for the Future Act calls for the agency to receive $12.50 billion this year.

Drilling down more, the Research & Related Activities account, which hosts NSF’s research portfolio, would receive $7.70 billion in the House’s plan. Again, a significant increase (+$790 million or a 11.4 percent increase) but below the President’s ($8.14 billion) and NSFFF’s ($10.03 billion) marks. The Education & Human Resources account is similar: the House ($1.27 billion; increase of $302 million or 31 percent) is below both the President ($1.29 billion) and NSFFF ($1.58 billion).

FY20 FY21 FY22 House $ Change % Change
NSF Total $8.28B $8.49B $9.63B +$1.14B +13.4%
R&RA $6.74B $6.91B $7.70B +$790M +11.4%
EHR $940M $968M $1.27B +$302M +31%

In terms of policy items in the committee’s report, there are several highlights. First, the committee does support NSF’s effort to establish a tech directorate (this one goes with the Administration’s name of “Directorate for Technology, Innovation, and Partnerships”), though the report doesn’t drill down to the level of a budget line. Regular readers will recall this is an addition to NSF that is proposed in both the Senate’s Endless Frontier Act and President Biden’s infrastructure plan (the House Science Committee’s NSFFF has something similar as well).

In other topics, AI and QIS is repeatedly mentioned throughout the report, which stipulates $724 million, “to support AI-related grants and interdisciplinary research initiatives, which is $112,430,000 above fiscal year 2021 and equal to the request,” and the committee recommends up to $205 million for QIS research, which is in line with the National Quantum Initiative Act. As well, disinformation and misinformation resiliency are prominent topics in the report and the appropriators direct NSF to fund research into these topics. There are also encouraging words about NSF’s broadening participation efforts and recommends strong funding for those programs.

With regard to the other research agencies, the National Institute of Standards and Technology’s (NIST) budget is quite good. The top line for the agency would see a significant jump, receiving an increase of 33 percent, going from $1.03 billion in FY21 to $1.37 billion in FY22 (+$340 million). Likewise, the institutes’ Science and Technical Research and Services (STRS) account, where the majority of the agency’s research is housed, would see a healthy increase for FY22; $938 million for this year, which is $150 million more (+19 percent) than it received for FY21. But, again, these numbers are below what President Biden recommended for FY22.

FY20 FY21 FY22 House $ Change % Change
NIST Total $1.03B $1.03B $1.37B +$340M +33%
STRS $754M $788M $938M +$150M +19%

Finally, NASA’s budget: the top line for the space agency would receive a relatively modest increase of 7.6 percent, going from $23.27 billion in FY21 to $25.04 billion in FY22 (+$1.77 billion). And NASA’s Science account would likewise receive a good boost of $670 million (or +9.2 percent); the account would go from $7.30 billion in FY21 to $7.97 billion in FY22. In a change of pace, these numbers are better than what the President suggested in his budget request.

FY20 FY21 FY22 House $ Change % Change
NASA Total $22.63B $23.27B $25.04B +$1.77B +7.6%
Science $7.14B $7.30B $7.97B +$670M +9.2%

Now that the bill has passed the full Appropriations Committee, it will head to the full House for consideration. Majority Leader Hoyer (D-MD) recently told House lawmakers that the chamber would take up several appropriations bills at once by the end of July; however, the CJS bill is not among that set and is likely to be delayed. It’s also unclear when the Senate will begin work on their set of bills. We’ll have to wait and see what happens, so please keep checking back for more updates.

FY22 Appropriations Update: House Appropriators Provide Increases for NSF, NIST, and NASA